As people all over the UK reach the middle of Stoptober and attempt to quit puffing on their dirty cancer sticks for 28 days, I have instead chosen to boycott that dirty habit that is infesting our nation and causing the destruction of family life, friendships and Saturday night TV all over the UK. That’s right, I’ve stopped watching The X Factor.
Saturday night’s scandal regarding Louis Walsh’s miraculous change of heart over cutting Rylan Clark instantly flooded Twitter and Facebook as viewers expressed their disgust over the alleged fix of the so-called public votes. Now, I know I tend to be a little… cynical, shall we say, but did people not realize this already? Did we really think that talent was the leading subject of these shows? Did we think that Jedward and Wagner were destined for triple platinum albums? Did we really think that Simon Cowell was actually straight? I mean really my fellow Twesp, wake up and smell the high-waisted trousers….
Just like ITV and Simon Cowell’s production companies our industry of theatre now thrives from allegedly knowing what the public ‘want’ to see. Give them what they want and they will hand over their hard earned cash. Last weeks Twitter debate, started by Stuart Piper of Cole Kitchenn, about producers using actors’ Twitter followers as a guide to who they should cast in their shows was utterly horrifying – but, sadly, all too believable. The celebrities cast in shows such as Shrek, Spamalot and Rock of Ages are often not up to the standard that the show and audiences deserve, put there not for their captivating performances but because the public apparently want them to be. But do they?
As Meryl Streep’s character from The Devil Wears Prada correctly states, “…it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff.” We are not expressing what we want to see, we are being told. No one broadcasted that they will only see a musical if there is a famous person in it, yet we have now come to expect celebrity casting. If West End shows stopped hiring celebrities would the industry die? No. If The X Factor started choosing talent over tacky gimmicks and mentally disturbed Irish boys would we all stop watching? No, I don’t think we would, but as the boys at the top push us an inch too far their audiences jump ship and ratings plummet.
My point is people, if you don’t like it, if you don’t agree with it, then stop watching it. Support real talent: go to your local fringe theatre, see the new play that’s just opened or discover a new comedian, author or musician. Stop being told who you want to see and what you like, decide for yourself and decide with talent. Next time you’re watching The X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent or The Voice (yeah right!) ask yourself, is this real life? Is this talent or should I be down the pub supporting my friend who’s been on the gig circuit for 10 years?
When you’ve decided, turn off your television and have a glass of Pinot for me.